Priya Dutt, Congress party's Member of Parliament (MP), enjoys good support in her Mumbai north-central constituency which has a mix of cosmopolitan, middle class, slum and Muslim voters. However, the residents of her constituency are not satisfied with her performance. Dutt has been representing this constituency since 2005.
The main allegation against her is that she has been an MP for more than nine years and her party has been in power at the Centre and the state all these years, yet she could not get any major infrastructure project to her constituency.
"Our MP is either busy with Page 3 parties, protecting illegal slums or engaged in getting her jailed brother and actor Sanjay Dutt parole repeatedly," said Ashish Shelar Mumbai BJP president.
Shelar is contemplating on contesting the Lok Sabha election against Priya Dutt. Shelar said that even in parliament Dutt has not raised any important issue. "She is mostly mum in parliament. It is sad and unfortunate that she is representing us. As a result, our area has not developed the way it should have been. If she does not have adequate time to spend for the welfare of the constituency, then she should resign," Shelar demanded.
"Most of the redevelopment projects in Koli village in Bandra have been stuck for a long time because of flimsy reasons. It includes the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) and airport authority's obstructing approval methods. Our MP should have played an active role to resolve these basic issues," Shelar added.
James John, a resident of Andheri who works with NGO AGNI, is not happy with his MP's track record. He said that while making any law in parliament, Dutt did not bother to seek opinion from her constituency's residents.
"Our views and objections should be obtained before preparing and subsequently announcing any public interest policy in parliament. The laws are made for citizens, but the irony is that the citizens are not consulted. It seems that she is an MP exclusively for her party rather than for the people who voted for her. It's very sad," said John.
However, Shyama Kulkarni, an activist of the Bandra-Khar area, has a different take on Dutt. "She is very approachable and does not have the airs of a politician. Whenever we had citizens' meetings, she made it a point to attend them to understand the local issues and subsequently resolve them," said Kulkarni.
According to Kulkarni, Dutt's noteworthy contribution is scrapping the proposed elevated metro line at Bandra. "We did not want the elevated metro. That could have created chaos. Dutt helped us to get the controversial elevated metro project scrapped. She also ensured the development of Bandra promenade," said Kulkarni.
Talking to dna, Dutt said: "It's very difficult to please each and every individual. I have done my best to uplift the living standard of people by preserving open spaces and gardens. My focus is on sanitation and a slum-free localities. I had tried big projects like the desalination plant, but it did not work out due to negative remarks of the government research agencies. I also wanted to develop Bandra Talav, but that work will happen in the near future," she explained.
Dutt is confident about her victory even though there is a huge anti-incumbency wave. "I have worked hard and the people know me as a genuine politician. In the upcoming election also they will vote for me," said Dutt.
Political observers feel Dutt's constituency is formed with various communities — slums and large Muslim pockets. "Slum and Muslim votes play a crucial role. Also, she has the backing of Bollywood. Salman Khan has already declared that he will vote for Dutt. Besides, most of the MLAs in her constituency belong to Congress and that would be of great help," an observer said.
However, if the BJP plays its card right and if MNS and AAP do not divide the anti-establishment votes, then Dutt will have a tough time.
Where is it?
Areas: Bandra (W), Bandra (E), Chandivli, Kurla, Vile Parle and Kalina.
Fund: In last five years fund received was Rs12.38 crore; Rs10.31 crore disbursed; Rs10.31 crore expenditure incurred; Rs2.26 crore fund not disbursed.